Damnatio memoriae

Discussion in 'Feedback' started by Blotto, May 30, 2013.

  1. Blotto


    In Ancient Greece, Herostratus set fire to the Temple of Artemis in order to become famous. To thwart his intent and discourage similar acts, the city leaders decreed that his name was never to be mentioned, on penalty of death.

    The Roman Senate could pass damnatio memoriae - condemnation of memory, a judgement that one must not be remembered and that all documentary references to them would be erased. This sentence was felt to be appropriate to traitors and others who discredited the Senate.

    It occurs that we could learn something from these ancient practices. Earlier this week, I reported a libellous post. The comment was directed against an ET poster who has claimed to work in the highly regulated financial industry. The nature of the allegation was that the gentleman was dishonest and interested in obtaining pecuniary advantages by deception. There is no evidence at ET or elsewhere to indicate this, and the post therefore could not have been other than malicious.

    Apparently the Moderators took some action in response to my report, as the offending post was removed. Shortly after, the troll complained of being warned off by the moderators and went on to repeat the libel. Again, I reported the subsequent post. However, by this time numerous others will have seen it.

    I would propose one of two options:

    #1 is that an admin imposed super-ignore-list is created which applies to both logged in users and guest browsers. Known trolls are added to this list. It is hoped that they continue to waste time posting, ignorant to the fact that their posts cannot be seen by anyone but themselves, before eventually returning under a new alias.

    #2 a permanent ban which removes the username of the poster and every single post they have ever made to this site, as though they had never existed. In addition, their nickname is to be placed in the swear filter. (I know this is technically possible as the member formerly known as spike five hundred has ceased to have ever existed)

    It is rather obvious what sort of site you will end up with if you do not protect those who work in regulated industries and in a position of trust from anonymous defamatory comments and those who would post them (while offering nothing of value to any of the discussions). I appreciate that some of these serial posters are losers who spend all day on ET and generate a lot of ad impressions, but the line needs to be drawn somewhere.

    In solidarity with quality contributors who have been hounded off the site by such abusive conduct, I will refrain from posting anything further outside of "feedback" section until the Admin creates and enforces a policy which is effective in mitigating the effects of trolling. I would ask that other market professionals do the same.
  2. Magna

    Magna Administrator

    Yes, the original offending post was removed as you say. When the troll re-appeared and posted in a similar fashion that post was also quickly removed and he was banned. Beyond that Baron would be the one to address your requests regarding the capabilities and limitations of the software.
  3. Over a decade of experience with ET has taught me to abandon all hope of ever changing anything with regards to the way this site is run. I used to post similar sentiments here in the feedback section with regards to the way trolls and ne'er do wells are tolerated far too much for my tastes as well, but nothing ever changes. Personally I've given up all hope of the possibility of reform, and I can just take it or leave it... but never change it.

    Right or wrong, Baron has found a formula that has provided him with a <b>very</b> successful career. His reluctance to ever implement any type of reform no matter what, while not the way I would want to run a business, is actually understandable considering the potential risk of 'New Coke' type flops and the old saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

    For better or for worse, this isn't the type of site where one can expect to suggest new ideas to management, and then actually have those ideas taken seriously. There's just no precedent for that sort of thing, at least as far back as I can recall. Resistance is futile here, sorry Blotto.
  4. Baron

    Baron ET Founder

    As Magna indicated, we have a permanent ban and we implement it regularly. In regards to deleting every single post that a banned user has ever made, we don't do that because deleting every post that user made would also require that we delete every reply to that user... and every reply to those replies. It just creates a cascade of post deletions, which creates way more problems than it solves... meaning that we would need to respond to all those innocent members inquiring about why their post count dropped, or why their replies in a certain thread were deleted, etc., etc.

    Furthermore, not all trolls start out that way. They may post quality content for months or even years, and then become assholes when somebody really pisses them off. So going back retroactively and deleting all their posts, even when they were on their best behavior, is more destructive to the quality of the archive than it is a solution to the troll problem.
  5. Blotto


    Thank you. The small comfort is that the person who was defamed likely didn't see it.

    I wasn't aware you didn't do that. I made reference to the case of ******** who has disappeared. Even references to his nick are censored. Is there a facility for a member to request disappearance of their user name and everything they have ever posted? Or only in exceptional cases? (actually, I'd be quite glad to have my username and everything I've ever posted removed/hidden...just like spike...and I'd promise to never again complain about this site, the people on it, or the way it is run ever again :cool: :cool: What would it take to make this happen?)
    Sure, I understand your position. My thoughts were that these trolls are motivated by ego and attention seeking - its all "look at me". Given the ability to register here for free under whatever alias one pleases, a ban doesn't really do too much especially as the members' X thousand posts which weren't actionable are allowed to stand, even if some or most of these were just disruptive drivel. So deleting (or hiding) all of their posts - a virtual damnatio memoriae of their online persona - might just be enough of a deterrent to keep users in line. However if there are problems implementing this, then perhaps it was a bad idea after all.

    Keeping people civilised in a pseudonymous environment open to all and without much consequence for breaking social norms is tricky indeed, and thankfully not an issue I am charged with solving.
    Sure, its a successful site and it is Baron's prerogative to run it however he pleases. As one of the more valuable contributors here, I am not surprised that you have raised similar issues in the past. I got the impression from the Brain Drain thread that there is little will to make any changes to how things are run. Although it is nice to have the feedback section and prompt replies from the owner and staff. I've just personally had enough of sincere and intelligent posters being abused and defamed here - it makes the forum useless for what I presume was its intended purpose.

    While resistance may be futile, I'll choose to take my ball and go home rather than be assimilated!